Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of June 4, 2013

​Tacoma Totem Pole

A special meeting this week will consider the fate of the Tacoma Totem Pole.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. a special panel convened at the recommendation of the Tacoma Arts Commission to review the possibility of deaccessioning the totem pole from the City of Tacoma’s Municipal Art Collection.  This is just a part of the ongoing conversation about the totem pole, which will also include the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and public input.  The panel will review the de-accession policy; review and discuss the Tacoma Totem Pole including issues of health and safety, and cultural significance; review and discuss de-accessioning; and develop recommendation(s).


A joint session of the Tacoma City Council and the Tacoma Public Utility Board this Tuesday will feature a TPU financial update and an overview of TPU’s Community Outreach and Volunteer program.  The financial update will include a summary of the TPU quarterly financial report, biennium-to-date budget versus actual, and budget versus projection for the remainder of the current biennium, along with a summary of recent bond issues for Tacoma Power and Water.  

Prairie Line Trail

At this week’s regular City Council study session Council will see a presentation on final conceptual design of the City-owned sections of the Prairie Line Trail on either side of the UWT campus.  During the presentation, City staff will provide an overview of the design process, public outreach, and project schedule.  The preliminary conceptual design was developed over the past year, with input from a committee of abutting property owners and other stakeholders. Between March and May 2013, staff conducted public outreach; this input was used to refine the design, resulting in the proposed final conceptual design being presented, which envisions a phased construction of the trail.  Phase 1 would create a continuous bicycle and pedestrian corridor and linear park linking the UWT section of the trail with Dock Street to the north and the Sound Transit property at South 26th to the south.  Beyond that, future phases would be dependent onland acquisition and redevelopment of adjacent parcels.  If the Council so directs, this presentation will conclude the conceptual design phase of the project. 

Click! Rate Changes

One of four ordinances scheduled for first reading this week would Amend the Tacoma Municipal Code as it relates to Click! Network rates, revising rates for cable television and related services, effective August 1, 2013.  Click! customers saw rate increases in 2011 and 2012, but as programming (the primary driver of cable tv costs) and operating costs continue to rise, two more rate increases are planned - one each July of the current biennium.  Basic cable customers in Tacoma would see an increase from $19.60 to $21.29, standard rates would rise from $44.28 to $48.29.

Taxicab Regulations

A second ordinance up for its first reading this week revisits updates to regulations on taxicabs and taxi drivers in Tacoma.  The changes would clarify specifications for digital security cameras required in cabs, clarify additional vehicle and driver requirements, and update language consistent with other licensing sections of the TMC.  Increased requirements were initially adopted in 2007, scheduled to into effect in 2012, but last year cab drivers successfully lobbied for more time and clarification on requirements.  In the months since then, the City has worked to clarify areas of the requirements to which the drivers objected or wanted increased clarity.  

Building & Fire Codes

The third ordinance scheduled for a first reading at this week’s Council meeting would implement the 2012 International Building, Residential, Existing Building, Mechanical, and Fuel Gas Codes; the 2012 Uniform Plumbing Code; and the 2012 Washington State Energy Code.  The adoption of these codes would establish the minimum requirements for building construction to safeguard public health, safety, and welfare; and would be effective July 1, 2013.  The Building Codes are updated nationally on a three-year cycle, then adopted by the state, which requires that cities adopte the codes as well.  Planning and Development Services developed local amendments streamlined from the 2009 codes, eliminating local code requirements that were no longer needed or did not align with the City’s current needs. In addition, based on work that PDS has done with a Regional Code committee developing sustainable codes, the City’s local amendments incorporate sustainable code amendments. There is also a code amendment that will require a business license be in place (where required) in order for a permit to be issued. 

The final ordinance scheduled for a first reading this week would repeal and reenact the chapter of the Tacoma Municipal Code related to the Fire Code of the City of Tacoma, regulating hazards to life and property in the use or occupancy of buildings or premises in the City of Tacoma   This item provides for the issuance of permits, penalties for violation, and adopts the 2012 International Fire Code along with State of Washington Amendments. Like the building codes, fire codes are updated nationally on a three-year cycle

Purchase Resolution

Three items on this week’s purchase resolution:

  1. A projected contract total of $1,097,860 plus sales tax, budgeted fro various funds, for an MSA Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, accessory equipment, and replacement parts for structural firefighting and other emergencies; and for optional equipment and replacement parts for a five-year period;
  2. $2,022,731, budgeted from the Solid Waste Fund, for construction of an expanded truck parking lot and associated improvements at the Tacoma Landfill; and
  3. $127,642, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Radio Communication Fund, for an initial two-year contract for depot repair services and technical support services of the City’s 800 MHz network communication system, with the option for three additional two-year terms, for a project contract total of $762,730.00.

Item 1 would replace breathing apparatus for the Tacoma Fire Department with newer, safer equipment, upgrading to high-pressure air cylinders, which allow fire fighters to carry ore air capacity.  The winning bid came in at 3.8% below the pre-bid estimate, and includes a provision for replacement parts at a 10% discount.

Item 2 would fund improvements to the area west of the Solid Waste Management administration building, including revised grading and expansion of the parking area, improving surface water drainage and collection, repairing settlement and damaged asphalt, and expanding the parking area available for the collections fleet. The project will also provide infrastructure to allow for future implementation of a compressed natural gas fueling system for the SWM collections fleet.  Currently, the parking area is not large enough for the entire SWM collections fleet so some vehicles are parked elsewhere. 

Item 3 would provide Motorola factory repair and technical support services for the both the’ City’s radio system, which provides radio communications for local Police, Fire, Public Works, and other first responders in Pierce.County.

Other Items

At this week’s regular City Council study session, the council will also hear about the South Sound Military and Communities Partnership and its goal in continuing efforts over the long-term, including working to identify additional opportunities to collaborate and improve support for military families.  Federal funding for SSMCP ends this year, and responsibility for the long-term growth plan shifts to local partners.  Since 2010 SSMCP has worked to be a bridge between Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the surrounding communities, helping to identify and close gaps in regional transportation, education and overall economic development. 

A resolution on this week’s agenda would authorize the execution of a Memorandum of Agreement with Pierce County, the Cities of Lakewood and Fife, and West Pierce Fire and Rescue regarding the financing of capital assets for South Sound 9-1-1.  This would reauthorize the arrangement first adopted by Tacoma in June 2011 to address aging and overcrowded dispatch facilities, federal and operational requirements to upgrade public safety radio infrastructure, and to improve regional efficiencies in emergency services.

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